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Fire district supporters miss campaign deadlines

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By John Colson

Sopris Sun Staff Writer

The organization that campaigned for passage of a Carbondale fire district tax hike owes the Colorado Secretary of State’s office $500 for twice filing its campaign finance reports late, according to state records.

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The organization, an issues committee named Citizens for a Safe Community, missed its campaign contributions and expenditures filing deadline on Oct. 13.

The report was filed instead on Oct. 20, drawing a seven-day penalty of $50 per day from the Secretary of State, totaling $350.

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Next, the committee missed its filing deadline of Oct. 30, filing it instead on Nov. 2, according to documents on file with the state. That drew a three-day penalty of $150.

According to the state, the committee has not filed for a waiver or reduction of the penalties in either case.

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The committee’s registered agent was Tom Adgate, and the designated filing agent was his wife, Susan Adgate.

According to Tom Adgate, the first missed filing deadline happened because he was out of town and was unable to sign on to the Secretary of State’s website to file the required forms.

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“They’re going to waive all but $50 for that one,” Adgate said, referring to the $350 penalty assessment. “They said that was half their fault” because the agency’s website would not accept Adgate’s personal identification number (PIN) and let him onto the site.

Although he had not submitted an application for waiver or reduction of the assessment, which is required, he said he plans to do so.

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He said he is not contesting the other penalty assessment, though, which he said was simply a mistake on his part. He said he will pay all of the fines himself.

“My mistake, my penalty,” he said.

The committee was authorized, informally, by the Carbondale & Rural Fire Protection District board of directors to campaign in favor of the tax hike that was approved by district voters on Nov. 3.

The committee was set up after the fire board’s attorney, Eric Gross, advised the board that its members could not actively campaign for the tax hike, in their official capacity as board members.

According to state records, the committee raised a total of $5,000 in September, from seven different sources, including contributions of $1,000 each from Fire Chief Ron Leach and Tom Adgate, who told The Sopris Sun he may consider a run for a fire board seat in the next election, which is in May, 2016.

Smaller contributions listed in the report included $100 from Theresa Goodwin of Carbondale, $100 from Don Cutright of Glenwood Springs and a total of $300 from Nancy Emerson, wife of fire board member Bob Emerson, in two separate contributions — one for $100 and another for $200, both dated Sept. 15.

The largest single donation contained in the Oct. 13 filing report was $2,500 from the Rosenbauer Minnesota LLC, in Wyoming, Minnesota, a fire equipment manufacturer and supplier.

No further contributions were listed in the Oct. 30 report, which showed that the committee had spent $4,733 on newspaper advertising prior to the election — $2,375 to The Sopris Sun, and $2,358 to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

There was no organized effort, such as a committee raising and spending money, in opposition to the tax-hike ballot question, which is expected to generate close to $600,000 annually in additional revenues for the cash-strapped fire district.

The next filing date for the committee’s campaign contributions and expenditures is Dec. 3, and Adgate said he fully expects to meet that deadline.

Published in The Sopris Sun on November 19, 2015.

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